IT DIDN'T LOOK like much, but the pale, wet hot dog was all John had time for. He accepted it from the vendor with a frown and slathered it with mustard and ketchup. With his cell phone wedged between his ear and shoulder, John was juggling a call with his manager, Gail—his second run-in with her that day. The dust cloud of the previous day had hit her office, and she wasn't happy about it.

“You're one of my key sales managers, John,” she said in an even tone he found unnerving, “a key part of this system. When any part of this system breaks down, it's me who has to explain it to upper management.”

“Do you think I wanted to get passed over again?”

Gail was silent. John looked at his watch impatiently. He was due for his appointment ...

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